Young defenders come of age for Super Bowl-bound Falcons (Reuters)

(Reuters) – Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn expected a learning curve when he decided to start four rookies on defense this season, but the move paid off as the improving unit helped them reach the Super Bowl. “We’re just playing things better,” Quinn told reporters as the NFC champions prepared to face the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady in the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Houston. “That comes with more reps, that comes with more time, and we’ve put in that time.” The Falcons’ rise to the championship game has been led by quarterback Matt Ryan, who steered a high-flying offense that led the National Football League in scoring by a large margin, but the young defense has grown to make a contribution.